Trader Joe’s is my favorite place on Earth. No joke. I love to grocery shop, but I could spend days in a Trader Joe’s neighborhood store. For those of you who are not blessed to have a TJs by you, it is a market that sells lots of tasty organic food, most of which is under the TJ’s name. So you won’t find your Kraft Mac & Cheese or Cheerios, but Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese and Joe’s O’s (which I prefer to the original). Another plus is that my local TJs, in Brookline, sells beer and wine. Aside from the famed “Three Buck Chuck” aka Charles Shaw wine that is three dollars a bottle, comes in many varieties and is actually decent wine, the Trader Joe’s beer is not half bad either. They supplement their namesakes with other quirky brews from the local area. For example, Newton’s Folly cider is on the Trader Joe’s rotation. Anyway, one of my favorite ways to test the ever-rotating selection is through the pick your own 6-packs. They are letting me take one of each so I can find the beer-loves of my life, and the ones to tell you not to try! Here are the results from my most recent 6-pack.
1. Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) This copper-colored creation was full of flavor and perfect for an April afternoon. Tasting very similar to an IPA, it was a little more refreshing and light. The surprisingly pleasant bitterness stuck around and I didn’t want it to leave. I drank it quickly because I think it needs to be enjoyed ice cold: as soon as it borders on warm, it’s charm is lost. It’s fizzy, but not bubbly, much like a cider. I would love it with some delicious Chinese or Thai takeout, but probably not in a bar. Definitely my favorite out of all six. Sorry to start out with the best…please keep reading!
2. Stockyard Oatmeal Stout I always like trying stouts to see how they live up to the king of them all that my beer love was spurned from (Guinness). Stockyard’s attempt fell short. It is a dark beer and it not overpowering. In fact, I think it was actually underpowered, to create a word. Tasted a bit like a watered down, “poor man’s Guinness.” It had a hint of coffee flavor, which I usually enjoy, but with the lack of aftertaste, this beer was not one of my favorites. Maybe I’m too critical of dark beers, but I know what I like and this wasn’t for me.
3. Trader Joe’s Hofbrau Bock This beer also tastes strangely like an IPA, though in a different way than #1. It was dark and pleasant to drink. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing but it was a good bock and, for the price, I would definitely buy it again.
4. Joseph Brau Dunkelweizen I don’t know what the brewers of this one were smoking when they mixed this up, but I did not like the outcome. Usually, I enjoy a creamy or bitter aftertaste when drinking a dark beer. A glorious mix of the two is ideal. However, this amazingly-named beer missed both of these marks by miles. The taste was almost banana-like, far too fruity for anything this dark. If the taste whilst drinking wasn’t strange enough, the aftertaste made me put the beer down. I refused to finish this one – something I rarely do as a poor college student. Not okay Joseph, not okay.
5. Trader Joe’s Bohemian Lager DELICIOUS BEER! This is a pretty smooth lager. It’s just bitter enough and packed with the right kinds of flavor. I noticed so sweeter undertones which complimented the bitterness. Even my non-beer drinking friend, Natalie, loved it. A good lager that a would get again…and again.
6. Anchor Summer Beer This was just disappointing. I always look forward to seasonal beers because their point is to compliment the weather, right? Well this San Fran-based brewery did not make a refreshing beer I want to drink in the middle of the hot summer months. It’s skunked flavor proved that sometimes, cheap beer tastes like cheap beer. There was very little beer flavor and it was hard to swallow. It was the flavor on the swallow that was offensive, not before it and not after it – a first for me. Drink a Sam Summer or a Harpoon Summer or a Corona! Skip the Anchor.
That’s my six-pack run down…some good, some bad. As that supply has clearly diminished, I returned to my favorite place in the world today to pick up some more beer (and food). To my happiest surprise, a new Trader Jose line of beers were lining the shelves. I picked up a light, Corona-looking 6 pack, and my boyfriend got the “Dark’ version. Cannot WAIT to try these. What would be in your ideal six-pack? Let me know. Cheers!!